the kata of matsubayashi-ryu
“Learning kata thoroughly is absolutely crucial. Karate training should center on kata. By making kata central to training, one can pursue Karatedo not only as budo but as a way of life.”
Grandmaster Shoshin Nagamine –The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do.
Though there might have existed up to 30 kata at one time in Shuri-te and Tomari-te, eighteen (18) were preserved by Osensei Nagamine when he formed Matsubayashi-Ryu. Sixteen (16) of these he learned from Choki Motobu, Chotoku Kyan and Ankichi Arakaki. The other two were created in 1940 by Nagamine Sensei and Chojin Miyagi Sensei to help propagate the art of Karate-Do.
Here follow the 18 kata of Matsubayashi-Ryu with as much (or litte) history as is known about each.
Fukyugata (“Promotional Kata”)
Fukyugata Ichi was created by Osensei Shoshin Nagamine in 1940 and Fukyugata Ni by the Master of Goju-Ryu, Chojun Miyagi. These two introductory kata were originally requested to be created by a special committee of the Okinawan Karatedo Association organized and summoned by the governor of Okinawa at that time, Mr. Gen Hayakawa. The reason for the inception of these two introductory kata was to create for beginners and school children an easier approach to Karate practice.
Pinan I through V were created by Anko Itosu in 1907 and were intended to be practiced by high school students as an integral part of the regular curriculum.
Naihanchi (“Horse Riding Kata”)
The composer of Naihanchi Shodan through Sandan is unknown. These ancient kata were the introductory ones for beginners before the Fukyugata and Pinan kata were composed.
The composer of this kata is unknown. The characteristic of this kata is noted by the Zenkutsu lunging stances for defensive and offensive movements.
Wankan (Okan) (“King’s Crown”)
The composer of this kata is unknown, but it has a long history. This kata was practiced mostly in Tomari Village. The characteristics of this kata are its elegance combined with powerful movements of attack and defense sequences.
The composer of this kata is unknown, but it has a long history as well. This kata was also mostly practiced in the village of Tomari. The characteristic of this kata is the one-foot stances where the other foot is drawn to deliver a quick snap-kick. It is a short but very elegant Kata.
It is believed that this kata was brought to Okinawa in 1683 by a Chinese envoy named Wanshu. Later, this kata was reformed and developed by Karate men of Tomari Village. The characteristic of this kata is the execution of hidden fist punches.
The composer of this kata is unknown. The characteristic of this kata is the execution of knife-hand techniques. This kata was the favorite of many Karate men of Tomari Village.
Gojushiho (literally “54 Steps”)
The composer of this kata is unknown. Goju-Shi-Ho literally means 54 steps. The characteristics of this kata are the Nukite (spear-hand thrust) and the resemblance of a drunken man’s movements.
The composer of this kata is unknown. The characteristics of this kata are the execution of a flying kick, and movements follow a diagonal line.
This kata was adopted and developed by Okinawan Karate men after it was brought to Okinawa in 1761 by a Chinese Martial Artist named Kusanku. This kata is the most magnificent and advanced kata of all Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate. It is also the longest and most difficult kata, requiring painstaking practice for more than a decade for mastery.